25 November 2020

Family. Chapter Five.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 1933. More moves. Young love. Naomi is born. Chicago’s World Fair.

In the spring of 1933 we again moved, this time to a large house on 93rd and University Avenue, and once again I was back at Perry school. I was in the third grade and I had made four transfers in three years. My memories of this period are not real clear. I know Naomi was born during the year we were there, and I found my first true love in the form of Virginia Bonada. Virginia was a year older than myself and light years ahead of me in life. It was she whom I claim as my first pleasurable sexual encounter. Let me digress, I had first come to know Virginia three years earlier when I was visiting with my family in the area and I was out playing and was taken in tow by this young vixen. Somehow we wound up at her house outside in a cold frame where she even then attempted to teach me of life, telling me what went where, and how all grown-ups did it, so therefore it must be something good. Back To 1933. Virginia and I took up under her tutelage where we had left off in the cold frame, and with her calling the shots as to time and place we practiced the art of young love. We did it in the coal sheds, on the girders of the underpass under the railroad overpass which ran alongside the house, I even recall us doing it in a dog house. To put it in its proper perspective I was her slave. I ran her errands, did her chores, and was at her beck and call. Perhaps this is the reason that my memories of the period are hazy, I was so wrapped up in Virginia, and the one thing she had to offer, that I thought of very little else.

Naomi was born that Year. Dad was working at the South Chicago Steel Works, and it seems we were pretty content, I know I was. I didn't even mind going to school, but before the year was out we were moving again. This move was to a large multi flat building on the corner of 89th and Buffalo Avenue, just a few blocks to the mill, and Dad had worked a deal to do some repair work for the owner, a Mr. Butcavich. Once again a new school James P Thorpe. I was in fourth grade in a racially integrated school, about 60% white the rest black with a few Latinos, and there was a natural feel to it. I can recall no problems of color or anything else. It seems we accepted each other and to be very honest, I didn't think anything about it then, one way or the other. My friends were Joey who lived next door, and a little Chinese girl who lived across the alley with her father who owned a small laundry. No hanky-panky, as he watched her like a hawk. I had my second encounter with death there, when a boy who lived a half block away succumbed to spinal meningitis, and I attended the wake. Naomi was a sickly child during that year and Mom was pretty much out of sorts most of the time. I can recall her sending me to the druggist to purchase a quarter’s worth of paregoric for Naomi's colic. Such a thing would be unheard of today, not colic, but for a 10 year old to buy a narcotic over the counter. In the summer of 1934 I got to go to the Chicago World's Fair which had been held over for a second year. I recall being dumb struck by the whole thing, and I know for a fact we did not take any event which was not free. I was amazed at the height of the sky ride and wanted to ride it, but it had a 10 or 15 cent fare and was out of the question so we enjoyed the free stuff and brought home the giveaways. I lingered outside of the entrance to the Sally Rand Show, thinking lewd thoughts and imagining all sorts of scenes with me as one of the principal characters. Such was the mind of your writer after months of Virginia, and the sudden drying up of the well.

I don't recall exactly what month it was but I came down with a high fever and it was scary enough that Mom called the county hospital (charity of course) and they sent out a doctor to examine me and he diagnosed scarlet fever and proceeded to quarantine the house and all therein, and I was carted off by ambulance to the Chicago Contagious Disease Hospital, where I made an immediate impression on the staff. For when I was instructed to urinate in the bed pan I had beneath me, I instead crapped into it. At the age of 10 I knew from urinate, they should have spoken my language and said pee, or something as equally understandable to my mind. Anyhow I had an irate nurse, and it really didn't get any better. In those days any acute contagious disease was treated by isolation and the normal period for scarlet fever was a confinement of 21 days. The hospital was a series of wards with a center aisle between wards which was sealed off by a glass partition, and for the period of confinement the patient had no contact with family or friends other than through that glass partition. Visiting days were Wednesday and Sunday, and Mom would faithfully come on those days to see me and we would converse by using a slate and chalk and writing our words and feelings. Dad never did make the trip. At the end of my 21-day confinement I was taken from the ward and given the test to see if I still had any signs of the disease and of course I tested positive and was returned to the ward for a second 21 day.. It was later determined that I did not have scarlet fever when first admitted, but had contacted it as a patient. Altogether I spent 43 days in the hospital before returning home and as a result had missed enough school that I never made it up and failed to pass at the end of that semester.